COVID-19 News Bulletin 26/06/2020
This week, Boris Johnson announced a series of more relaxed measures which will take effect from 4th July, as we tentatively take steps towards returning to normality. The twometre distancing guidelines that have been in place since 23rd March have now been reduced to “one metre plus”, which means precautions must still be observed to reduce the risk of spreading the virus such as the use of face masks. And from the 4th, two households of any size may meet up indoors and stay overnight. Restaurants, pubs and cafes will be allowed to re-open but must use table service only, while customers will have to provide contact details before entering the venue. Libraries, museums, galleries, community centres, cinemas and hairdressers will also be allowed to re-open, although visors must be worn by hairdressers. And holiday accommodation including B&B’s, campsites and hotels can take in guests. In terms of offices, Boris Johnson is still saying that employees should work from home if at all possible, but for those who cannot, measures should be put in place such as avoiding face-to-face seating, using protective screens and face coverings and changing shift patterns so that employees work in set teams. The devolved nations are still easing measures at their own pace in accordance with the medical and scientific evidence they are receiving.
Outside of the UK the picture appears a little more bleak.
In Germany, the R-number spiked by 60% over a 48-hour period after 1,330 employees at a meat processing plant tested positive for Covid. The world has seen pockets of cases rising, with China attempting to control an outbreak in Beijing and in Victoria, Australia, some lock-down measures have had to be reintroduced after a rise in cases. A report last weekend by the World Health Organisation showed a record number of new Covid-19 cases globally. South Korea has also confirmed a second wave of infections.
With the wonderful weather experienced this week, the usual images of packed beaches were in the media, causing the Prime Minister to ask people to understand that mingling too much would set the UK back. Warning that spikes in coronavirus abroad should act as a warning to Britons who flout the social distancing rules and went on to say that people in other countries had taken too many liberties with the guidance as lockdown rules eased. Ministers have warned that UK beaches could be closed if infections rise.
So what’s the latest on holiday arrangements? In England from 4th July, people will be allowed to stay overnight in self-contained accommodation, for example self-catering cottages, caravans with their own bathroom facilities, hotels and bed and breakfasts. Selfcatering accommodation will reopen in Northern Ireland from today, 26th June and hotels there are to follow one week later, on 3rd July. A decision will be taken in Wales on 9th July on whether to open the country to tourists again and if this receives the go-ahead, its likely to be from 13th July. The Welsh government has said that people can start booking holidays in self-contained accommodation from 13th onwards. In Scotland you can book self-contained accommodation from 3rd July and all other holiday accommodation can reopen from 15th July.
But going on a foreign holiday at the moment is difficult. British Nationals are still being urged not to take any non-essential foreign travel. This would mean that you would be unlikely to get travel insurance as the insurers take their cues from the official advice. Currently most travellers will have to quarantine upon their return to the UK. However, the government wants to relax the rules in early July for some countries with a series of ‘travel corridors’ in place. France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain are now welcoming travellers from the UK
Latest updates from us
**NHS Pension - Scheme pays deadline extended for pension scheme**
For those clients who are members of the NHS pension scheme, the voluntary scheme pays election deadline has been extended to 31 October 2020 for tax bills relating to 2018- 19. This has been extended by three months to help staff avoid missing the annual deadline during the COVID-19 response.
As a member if you elect to use scheme pays, the NHS Pension Scheme will pay your annual allowance tax bill to HMRC on your behalf, with the member’s benefits in retirement being reduced by a corresponding amount. This option means that members do not need to settle any pension tax bills with cash up-front.
The scheme pays deadline for mandatory scheme pays remains as 31 July 2020.
Employees must notify NHS Pensions of their intention to use scheme pays before the annual deadline for the relevant tax year.
The extension of the voluntary scheme pays deadline will be reviewed again at the end of July.
Do get in contact to discuss if you believe you may have an annual allowance charge and we’ll be happy to advise you further.
A reminder from HMRC regarding the changes to the Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
(taken from BBC.co.uk just ahead of close this afternoon)
Last weeks gains saw the FTSE100 rise 3%. So what has been affecting the markets? The positive news on the virus front was that Dexamethasone, a cheap and widely available, corticosteroid significantly reduces death rates in severely sick Covid patients. Sadly, this does not slow the transmission and is therefore unlikely to materially affect the willingness of policymakers to allow a full resumption of economic activity. There wasn’t much good news on the virus front which could provide a upsurge of the markets, with global cases continuing to increase. In Europe case number have stopped falling and, as efforts have switched towards reopening the economies, there has been some failures to suppress the virus. Whilst there is a lot of scepticism about how the recent rally in markets is disconnected from the real economy, research is showing that in the US at least, the retail sector has proven to be freakishly well-aligned with the stock market after rebounding strongly in May. Where it is disconnected is with industrial production which is barley staging any recovery. It is far from clear how the Bank of England would react to supply shock-induced inflation, but for now the policymakers remain in reasonably dovish mood. The Bank kept interest rates unchanged last week but increased its asset purchase target by £100bn. However, it is spreading that out over the next three months marking a marginally more hawkish announcement than had been expected. This led to a rise in gilt yields as it means net insurance is likely to be higher over the coming three months. Recent movements in commodity prices, the rally in oil and a slight pickup in economic activity would all be consistent with rising gilts.
(taken from BBC.co.uk)
Many investors believe the economic and market turmoil we have suffered is large, but temporary. But we will see as the Covid story continues to develop.
Should you have any concerns or questions, we are here for our clients and will happily arrange a telephone or video call appointment to provide guidance, please either call our practice mobile 07543 368 478 or email email@example.com to arrange your appointment.
I hope you enjoyed this weeks’ update and if you need to discuss anything in todays bulletin, do get in contact.